Saturday, April 2, 2011

Opening of baseball marred by beating

By Tom Grant
PhD student, Center for ETHICS*

The opening day of baseball should be the herald of spring. It should be full of hope. But this year baseball not only opened under the shadow of the perjury trial of San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds, but it also opened with terrible beating of a fan in Los Angeles.

Barry Stow, 42, is now in a coma. His only crime was being a Giant's fan at Dodger Stadium.

According to news reports, two men in Dodger clothing began taunting three Giant's fans, then attacked them. They were punched, kicked and knocked to the ground. Stow, a paramedic and father of two young children, was kicked repeatedly in the head.

Perhaps we can't blame baseball for every assault that occurs in the parking lot. But this sounds like a warning that some sports fans have taken tribalism too far.

Baseball is supposed to be the All-American sport. And if we're all Americans, why are we beating each other up over regional rivalries. For the Giants and Dodgers there will be another game tomorrow. For Stow, we wish we could be so sure.

Some in Los Angeles are raising the questions: Is it safe to go to baseball games? And should alcohol sales be promoted so  boldly around sporting events? After all, some criticize the Dodgers for being so eager to sell beer that they built Dodger Stadium without drinking fountains.

Fans in the soccer world fear British soccer hooligans. Now it appears we have our own hooligans of sport. It's time to begin controlling it.

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